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Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • An English speaking local leader throughout
  • International airport transfers from/to Bishkek airport
  • All other transfers as per the itinerary
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • Good standard accommodation
  • 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 13 dinners
  • Sightseeing as specified
  • All entry fees for sites visited on group itinerary
  • Activities as specified
  • Helicopter flight
  • The option of joining one of our four pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms kit bag

South Inylchek Glacier to Khan Tengri

Walking & Trekking

Kyrgyzstan | Walking & Trekking

Offer - Save £50
South Inylchek Glacier to Khan Tengri
Vigorous

Suitable for enthusiastic hill/mountain walkers.

Find out more...

Grade: Vigorous ? Vigorous
Duration:  16 days from the UK  
On trek: 8 days

Book now or call 01453 844400

An incredible trek beneath dazzling 7,000m peaks, right into the heart of the Tien Shan.

Highlights

  • Trek through wild glacial terrain beneath towering peaks
  • Stay in permanent camps along the route
  • Experience the incredible helicopter ride from South Inylchek Base Camp to Karkara
  • Swim in the warm(ish) waters of Issyk Kul Lake with views of the mountains on all sides

Reviews          

Having travelled with your company many times we know we can rely on you to give us the best possible experience on our holidays.
Mr & Mrs G, Guernsey

The views from South Inylchek Base Camp are truly stupendous!
Steve Berry, Managing Director

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This trek is an exploration of the valleys and glaciers leading to the impressive peaks of Pobeda, 7,439m, and Khan Tengri, 7,010m, the two highest peaks of the Tien Shan mountain range.

The adventure begins with sightseeing in the old Cossack town of Karakol before heading off on trek along the banks of the Inylchek river in beautiful At Jailoo gorge. There will be glaciers to cross and streams to wade before we arrive at Merzbacher Lake, named for the Austrian explorer, Dr. Gottfried Merzbacher who was the first person to attempt to reach Khan Tengri in 1902.  The lake lies at the junction of the north and south Inylichek glaciers and is remarkable because twice a year it part-empties through melt channels in the glacier.

Our trek continues through truly wild terrain along glaciers and glacial moraine until we arrive at South Inylchek Base Camp, the very heart of the Tien Shan. An exciting helicopter ride carries us back down to greener pastures on the shores of geothermal lake Issyk Kul.  A stop at an Old Silk Road trading point and a sightseeing tour of Bishkek bring this excellent adventure to a close.

\b Book either of our 2017 departures now and save £50 off the published price. \b-


At a glance

Grade: Vigorous
Vigorous

Duration:  16 days from the UK  
On trek: 8 days

Max. Altitude: 4,100m / 13,451ft

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 4 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Bishkek

Accommodation types: Hotels, Camping

Meal arrangements: 14 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 13 Dinners.There is a set menu for dinner at each camp so please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements in advance in order that you can be catered for.You will have all meals during the trek breakfast and dinner in camp and a packed lunch carried to eat during the days trek. Tea/coffee and snacks are provided on arrival at the camps.Extra snacks, soft drinks, beer and vodka are available for sale at all camps. Wine and local cognac are also available at Base Camp.Drinking water is available at all camps. You need to be able to carry 3-4 litres a day as it may not be possible to re-fill during the walk.

Itinerary overview
DayActivity
1-2
Fly to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
3
Drive to Karakol - 8 hours.
4
Sightseeing tour in Karakol. Drive to At Jailoo Base Camp, 2,500m/8,202ft - 6 hours.
5
Trek along the Inylchek River to Iva Camp, 2,900m/9,514ft - 5-7 hours.
6-7
Trek to Glina Camp, 3,100m/10,170ft - 5-6 hours. Trek to Merzbacher Glade Camp, 3,400m/11,154ft - 5-6 hours.
8
Trek across the South Inylchek Glacier to Merzbacher Lake and back - 4-5 hrs
9
Trek to Komsomolskiy Glacier, 3,800m/12,467ft - 4-6 hours.
10
Trek to Dikiy Glacier Camp, 3,900m/12,795ft - 3-5 hours.
11
Trek to South Inylchek Glacier Base Camp, 4,100m/13,451ft - 4-6 hours. Optional climb of Pesnya Abaya peak, 4,901m/16,079ft.
12
Trek around Khan Tengri Peak - 5-6 hours.
13
Helicopter flight to Karkara. Drive to Issyk Kul Lake - 3 hours.
14
Morning at leisure. Transfer to Bishkek via Boom Gorge - 5-6 hours.
15
Sightseeing tour of Bishkek. Afternoon at leisure.
16
Fly to London.
Leader: Local Leader, Kyrgyzstan
Local Leader, Kyrgyzstan

For our holiday in Kyrgyzstan, you will be provided with an expert local Trek Guide. They are certified/registered guides, and in their company you will certainly gain an insight into the way of life, traditions and culture of the country you are visiting.


  1. Day 1 - Fly London to Bishkek.

    Depart London on your overnight flight to Bishkek.

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  2. Day 2 - Arrive Bishkek. Transfer to hotel. Rest of day at leisure.

    Arriving in Bishkek you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. You will now have time to rest from the flight and perhaps do a bit of exploring. This capital city is a textbook example of Soviet planning with all streets arranged on a grid with wide boulevards and avenues and a surprising amount of green space with its many parks and woodland dotted around. The city is said in fact to have more trees per person than anywhere else in central Asia. There is a constant reminder of the alpine landscape which lies just beyond the city with views, to the south, of the nearly 5,000m/16,404ft high, snow topped ridge of Ala-Too. There will be a group guided sightseeing tour here at the end of your trip. Tonight it will be a good idea to get a long night's sleep, recover from the flight and prepare for the travel and trekking ahead.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Asia Mountains Hotel or Similar, Bishkek
  3. Day 3 - Transfer to Karakol by bus - 8 hours. Meet your mountain guide in Karakol.

    Today after breakfast you will take the long bus ride to Karakol where you will meet your mountain guide and learn more about your trek. Lunch will be taken on the way in a local restaurant and you will get a chance to try some of the typical Kyrgyz food.

    Karakol is a sleepy old Russian town situated at the foot of the Tien Shan Mountains. It was first developed as a Russian settlement in the middle of the 19th century with a largely Cossack population and later grew as Dungans, Tatars, Uyghurs and Ukrainians moved here. This town has not always been called Karakol however - back in 1888 the town was re-named Przhevalsk to honour the Russian explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky who first arrived in the 1860's and later returned in 1888 and died here. In 1921 Lenin decided it should revert to its original name of Karakol, followed by Stalin commanding it to be changed back to Przhevalsk in 1939. Finally in 1991 when Kyrgyzstan became independent the name once more changed - going back to the original, Karakol!

    Overnight iconOvernight: Amir Hotel or Green Yard Guesthouse or Similar, Karakol
  4. Day 4 - Morning sightseeing tour of Karakol. Transfer by truck to At-Jailoo Base Camp, 2,500m/8,202ft – 6 hours.

    This morning you will have a guided tour of the town. It is set in the typical Russian grid style with long poplar lined avenues. Most of the buildings are old wooden 'gingerbread' houses with neat gardens of flowers, fruit laden orchards and picket fences. During the tour you will visit the Dungan mosque built in the typical Chinese style and resembling a pagoda, it was constructed by the Dugans, Muslim people of Chinese origin who live in this area. In contrast you will also go to the wooden Russian Orthodox Church, built without a single metal nail. Time permitting there is a museum on the outskirts of town dedicated to the life and expeditions of the aforementioned Russian explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky.

    After lunch in a local café you will board the truck and make the 200km drive to your first camp at At-Jailoo. The drive passes through small villages and along the Turguen Ak Suu canyon towards Chon Ashuu Pass, 3,808m/12,493ft, before descending the Ashuu Tor valley. Continuing along the Sary Jaz River, one of the largest in the country which feeds into the Inylchek River flowing towards China, you reach the check point at Echkilitash. This is border zone country and permits will be checked to allow you to proceed. A further 1 to 1 ½ hours following the Inylchek River you reach the nights camp at At jailoo.

    Here your tents will be ready for you and dinner prepared. Time to reflect on your first impressions of this country and to look forward to the start of the trek tomorrow.

    Overnight iconOvernight: At-Jailoo Camp
  5. Day 5 - Trek along the Inylchek River to Iva Camp, 2,900m/9,514ft - 5-7 hours.
    south inylchek glacier to khan tengri crossing inylchek river trek to iva camp.

    You will need an early start this morning in order to cross the At Jailoo River whilst the water level is low. Having crossed the freezing water and walked for about an hour another stream presents itself in a place called Prijim. If the water level is not too high you will be able to easily cross, otherwise a detour up a steep overgrown path is the only way forward. The unknown water level is dependent on Lake Merzbacher higher up the valley which twice a year (summer and winter) drains into the Inylchek River thus effecting the amount of water lower down. Due to these crossings it is recommended that you bring sandals to wear in the water in order to keep your boots dry. The walk then continues in a beautiful alpine environment with many flowers, up the valley, following the river until you reach the beginnings of the glacier and Iva Camp. Like all the camps, your tents will be ready for you and tea and snacks waiting in the dining tent.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Iva Camp
  6. Day 6 - Trek to Glina Camp, 3,100m/10,170ft – 5-6 hours.

    Having reached the mighty Inylchek Glacier you will spend the day following it further up the valley towards the mountains. The glacier is the third largest outside the Polar Regions, 62km long and over 3km wide, it is estimated that it holds enough ice to cover the entire country in 3 metres of melt water.

    After breakfast and armed with packed lunches, the days trek will get underway. There are some steep ascents and descents today as you follow the path along the glacial moraine, traversing terraces and crossing small rivers. Passing over the Putevodnyi Glacier, which flows into the main glacier, and crossing over eroded slopes where landslides have occurred, the path continues upwards. A suitable spot will be chosen for a well-earned lunch break and you can enjoy the views whilst you rest and eat. You will then continue over more undulating terrain in this wild and magnificent scenery before arriving at Glina Camp. This area is named after the Russian word 'Glina' meaning clay, as it is located on a green clay field beside the glacier. Tea, snacks and rest before dinner.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Glina Camp
  7. Day 7 - Trek to Merzbacher Glade Camp, 3,400m/11,154ft – 5-6 hours.

    Setting off again beside the glacier on the lateral moraine you will trek on a largely undulating path, although there are some flatter sections today. A small side glacier will be crossed and a river passed before coming to a small lake. This will be your lunch place and there is the opportunity to swim in the lake - for the brave, the water will be cold! From here it is only another hour to camp in a grassy area known as 'Merzbacher Glade'. This is the last grass you will see for some days. It is located across the glacier from the unique Merzbacher Lake where you will go and explore tomorrow. Tonight though you can enjoy tea and snacks and later dinner with wonderful views of the lake.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Merzbacher Glade Camp
  8. Day 8 - Trek across the South Inylchek Glacier to Merzbacher Lake and back - 4-5 hours.
    south inylchek glacier to khan tengri merzbacher camp.

    Today you will cross over the great South Inylchek glacier making your way between boulders and ice and walk up to Mertzbacher Lake, which is 6 km long and 1 km wide, and sandwiched between the southern and northern branches of the glacier. The path is easily followed although you will need to watch your step as you will be walking on ice covered with rocks, stones, sand, and mud. The guide will be at hand if you need any help but it is not a technical glacier crossing and should not present any great difficulties. Having arrived you can enjoy the amazing views of this huge lake filled with drifting icebergs, it is a truly spectacular sight.

    There is a scientific research station on the glacier where scientists come from all over the world every summer, to study glacial movements, meteorology and the emptying of the Mertzbacher Lake.

    The lake constitutes a phenomenon known as a proglacial lake, a lake dammed by a glacier. Proglacial lakes are found in various locations all over the world, but usually they enlarge until the glacier retreats, or are short-lived in their existence. Merzbacher Lake however, is exceptional as the lake repeatedly gets emptied, just to get refilled soon after.The process, still not fully understood by geologists, can be described like this: the melt water fills up the lake in the summer months at a rate of up to two meters per day. When the lake is filled, it bursts out and completely empties itself within just three days. The release of the water occurs when the dam of ice buoys upwards and opens up a number of glacial channels in the damming glacier. The water then discharges through the glacier into the valley on the other side of the ice, where it flows into the Inylchek River. When the lake has emptied, the ice dam lowers, thereby blocking the glacial channels. As a result, the lake begins to fill up again. The cycle of the emptying and subsequent refilling of the lake occurs at least once per year, in some years even twice. It is very difficult to estimate the timing when the emptying begins. Usually taking place in August, some years it has occurred as early as Mid-July. Because of the difficulty of knowing when this emptying will occur it is virtually impossible to reach the lake to witness this phenomenon. Very few people have therefore actually seen it happen.

    From the lake you then return the way you came back to camp to reflect on the phenomenon you have seen - either with or without all its water.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Merzbacher Glade Camp
  9. Day 9 - Trek to Komsomolskiy Glacier, 3,800m/12,467ft – 4-6 hours.

    A long trekking day awaits you today as you continue the steady walk up the side of the glacier, the scenery is ever more dramatic as you gain height, and snow, rocks, and ice of many colours surround you. You will be venturing into a landscape of ice and rocks with much of the trail crossing up and down moraine and past smaller side glaciers flowing into the main valley. The path winds its way around rocks, streams and small crevasses, which can be time consuming and a contrast to the alpine meadows of the first days. You will really feel as if you are entering the high mountains.

    You will pass Shokalskyi and Komsomolez glaciers which flow down and feed into the Inylchek glacier. The camp tonight is on the Komsomolez glacier and will be considerably colder than the previous camps - have your warm jackets ready! It can also be windy here in the late afternoon so the hot drinks and dinner in the sheltered dining tent will be very welcome.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Komsomolskiy Glacier Camp
  10. Day 10 - Trek to Dikiy Glacier camp, 3,900m/12,795ft – 3-5 hours.
    south inylchek glacier to khan tengri camp on dikiy glacier.

    Another day of crossing undulating glacial moraine as you enter further into the Tien Shan Mountains. All around now are numerous nameless, unclimbed peaks around 5,000m/16,400ft high.

    The trail leads from the camp up and down over the Proletarsky glacial moraine towards Dylkyi glacier. Reaching the middle of this moraine you will turn and head up along it towards the glacier itself. The route flattens out a little and becomes easier to walk on. Lunch will be had and then after a further short while Dikiy Glacier camp is reached, located behind Pesnya Abaya peak, an optional ascent for tomorrow. The camp is beautifully situated with fabulous views of Khan Tengri, 7,010m/22,999ft, and Pobeda, 7,439m/24,406ft) peaks.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Dikiy Glacier Camp
  11. Day 11 - Trek to South Inylchek Glacier Base Camp, 4,100m/13,451ft – 4-6 hours. Optional climb of Pesnya Abaya, 4,901m/16,079ft.

    Today you have an option to climb Pesnya Abaya standing at 4,901m/16,079ft. You will need to leave at 8.00am as it takes approx. 3 - 5 hours to ascend and 1 ½ - 2 hours to descend. It is not technical, mostly on scree until the snow and ice at the top. The climbing gear you need (crampons, climbing harness and karabiners) can be hired for a small fee. The supplement for climbing this peak includes the services of a guide and all group equipment. This needs to be booked in advance.

    For non-summiteers there is a short days trek to reach the highest camp on the South Inylchek Glacier. The route is over the glacier as the camp is situated on the centre of the moraine. The path winds round rocks, ice, small lakes and crevasses but is safe and requires no equipment. Camp will be reached by lunch time, which will be taken on arrival. The afternoon is then free to relax and enjoy your surroundings with fabulous views of the two highest peaks in this mountain range - Pobeda and Khan Tengri. Khan Tengri in particular must rate as one of the most beautiful peaks in the world. A splendid freak of nature, it is almost perfectly formed and the top half is marble. Thus, at sunrise and sunset it produces the most wonderful colours.

    All the hard work walking up over the moraine will be rewarded by this magnificent amphitheatre of mountains so sit back and enjoy the view and the atmosphere of being in this amazing place.

    As the camps are only open for 2 months a year there can be many climbers here at base camp preparing for their ascents of the two biggest peaks of the Tien Shan. You might be able to spot climbers on the mountains with the assistance of binoculars and will certainly see the activity associated with climbing expeditions. This can create a real atmosphere of excitement and often there are parties going on in the evenings.

    Overnight iconOvernight: South Inylchek Base Camp
  12. Day 12 - Trek around Khan Tengri Peak – 5-6 hours.
    south inylchek glacier to khan tengri d spear.

    Today you will hike on the glacier towards the base of Khan Tengri. This is a relatively flat area of the glacier so not too strenuous a day. The excursion will lead you amongst a dazzling panorama of ice-caked, ice-fluted peaks and hanging glaciers in a 360° arc. It is a stunning environment in which to spend a day and by the time you return to camp you will have a sense of awe for this spectacular terrain.

    Overnight iconOvernight: South Inylchek Base Camp
  13. Day 13 - Helicopter flight to Karkara - 30-40 mins. Transfer to Issyk Kul Lake.

    A farewell to base camp and to the mountains, but in style! This is probably one of the most exciting flights you are likely to make as you pass between huge peaks and skim over ridges as you descend out of the mountains. After the raw excitement of boarding and take-off on the small pad next to Base Camp, the flight down the South Inylchek Glacier can be thoroughly enjoyed with some nostalgia. The helicopter climbs and skims over mountain passes to exit the Tien Shan. A final wave goodbye to the Celestial Mountains and very shortly you land at Karkara.

    Now it is back in a bus to drive to Issyk Kul Lake (meaning warm lake in the Kyrgyz language), the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. It measures 182km long by 58km wide and appeared as a result of volcanic activity. Being heated by thermal springs it never freezes despite very cold air temperatures and in summer can reach 25 - 28°C. The climate is far milder than the Kyrgyzstan average due to the moderating effect of the lake and it has become something of an oasis. It was a renowned beauty spot in the old Soviet Union and there are plenty of Soviet style resorts along its northern sandy shores. Today it attracts many Kyrgyz tourists who come to relax and enjoy the beautiful setting surrounded by mountains.

    The 200km drive will take about 3 hours and lunch will be taken on the way. You should arrive in plenty of time to enjoy a swim in the clear waters or a stroll along the beach. Your hotel will be situated right by the lake shore. Dinner will be at the hotel.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Karven Issyk Kul or Karven 4 Seasons or Similar, Issyk Kul Lake
  14. Day 14 - Morning at leisure. Afternoon transfer to Bishkek through Boom Gorge - 5-6 hours.

    A relaxed morning at your hotel, time to rest, take a swim and enjoy the lakeside setting. After lunch you will drive back to Bishkek through the Boom Gorge, a narrow canyon where the railway, road and Chui River squeeze together. The 250 km drive will take about 5-6 hours.

    Further on as you near the town of Tokmok you will stop and visit the reconstructed Burana Tower. This is an old minaret and is all that remains of the old town of Balasagum, established by the Kharkhanids at the end of the 10th century. It was on an important trading route of the Silk Road and the town flourished for centuries until its eventual decline in the 15th century. There is a small museum with information about the town and a collection of around 80 Turkic 'balbals' or stone grave markers dating from between the 6th and 10th century which have been gathered from all over the country and placed here. Continuing the rest of the way you will arrive back in Bishkek for two nights.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Asia Mountains Hotel or Similar, Bishkek
  15. Day 15 - Morning sightseeing tour of Bishkek. Free afternoon.

    This morning you will have a guided walking tour of the city taking around 3 hours. The guide will show you all the main sights, finishing in the largest department store in town, for a shopping experience and the opportunity to buy any souvenirs you might want. There are many optional extra sights that can be added to the tour so make sure you discuss with your guide what you would like to see in the time allotted.

    In the afternoon you will have free time to relax before your farewell dinner in a local restaurant.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Asia Mountains Hotel or Similar, Bishkek
  16. Day 16 - Transfer to airport for flight back to London.

    You will be transferred back to the airport for your flight home.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Departure Day
  17. Day 17 - Fly Bishkek to London

Map

Map Key

  • AirportAirport
  • General point of interestPoint of interest
  • Mountain RangeMountain Peak
  • TrekDay walk in this area
  • FlightsFlights
  • Internal TransfersInternal Transfers
  • Trek routeTrek

2018

DatesAvailabilityLand OnlyFlight Inclusive from
Sat 21 Jul - Sun 5 Aug 2018AvailableContact usContact us
Sat 11 Aug - Sun 26 Aug 2018AvailableContact usContact us

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Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

What’s included

  • An English speaking local leader throughout
  • International airport transfers from/to Bishkek airport
  • All other transfers as per the itinerary
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • Good standard accommodation
  • 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 13 dinners
  • Sightseeing as specified
  • All entry fees for sites visited on group itinerary
  • Activities as specified
  • Helicopter flight
  • The option of joining one of our four pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms kit bag

What’s not included

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Optional climb of Pesnya Abaya (day 11)
  • Tips


Review your holiday

Reviews

Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 2 reviews)

Reliable tour operator          

Having travelled with your company many times we know we can rely on you to give us the best possible experience on our holidays.

Incredible views!          

The views from South Inylchek Base Camp are truly stupendous!


Extend your holiday

There are many ways you can extend your holiday with Mountain Kingdoms: book extra hotel nights, relax at a beautiful beach resort, take a warm-up trek, arrange a personal sightseeing tour or enjoy specialist activities such as rafting, birdwatching or a safari.

We're happy to suggest ideas, provide quotes and make all the arrangements. We can also assist with flight and hotel upgrades. Just call us on +44 (0)1453 844400 or email info@mountainkingdoms.com and we will be pleased to help.

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